Ukrainian troops were forced to retreat from portions of Bakhmut due to a renewed Russian assault on the destroyed battlefield city, Britain reported on Friday, with Moscow aiming for a triumph before Ukraine’s scheduled counteroffensive.
According to Ukrainian sources, Russia has been withdrawing soldiers from other sections of the front in preparation for a massive push on Bakhmut, which Moscow has been attempting to conquer for nine months in order to reenergize the all-out invasion began more than a year ago.
Western countries have in the past pointed to acrimony between the Russian defence ministry (MoD) and the country’s main mercenary force Wagner as a major Russian weakness.
“Russia has re-energised its assault on the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut as forces of the Russian MoD and Wagner Group have improved co-operation,” Britain’s military said in a daily briefing note.
“Ukrainian forces face significant resupply issues but have made orderly withdrawals from the positions they have been forced to concede,” it said.
Near Bakhmut, soldiers from a Ukrainian artillery unit were loading shells into a Soviet-era howitzer and firing towards the front line, where they said Russia had massed its foot soldiers.
“Our target in that direction is mostly infantry. There is a big concentration of the Russian Federation’s ‘human factor’,” said Dmytro, the artillery unit’s 44-year-old commander. The gun thundered as the unit blasted three shells, the first to find range, the second to adjust aim.
“The third one is finishing off. Most likely, I hope, the infantry they spotted was eliminated.”